Jessica Pegula wins Citi Open

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WASHINGTON — Jessica Pegula’s parents are used to seeing the athletes they root for come up short: Mom and Dad own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. On Sunday, their daughter was the one holding a trophy after winning her first WTA title.

Pegula, a 25-year-old American ranked 79th, picked up the biggest win of her professional tennis career by beating Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-2, 6-2 at the Citi Open.

“It’s been extremely gratifying. This is what you work for: to win tournaments. It sounds cliche, (but) the journey makes it all that much sweeter,” said Pegula, who recently began working with David Witt, Venus Williams’ former coach.

“This week, though, it felt different. This final, I felt like I was just ready,” said Pegula, who dropped to her knees on court after the final point, then celebrated with her dog, Maddie, during the trophy ceremony. “I was like: You know what? You’re going to go out there and you’re going to win.”

She had a 4-8 record and hadn’t reached the quarterfinals anywhere this season until winning five consecutive matches at Washington’s hard-court tournament.

Injuries to her ankle, knee and hip have slowed her progress.

“We always say she’s our first sports team – and our favorite. People often ask us which team we like better, which sport we like better, and so she’s always been our first team and our favorite team,” Pegula’s mother, Kim, said after the Bills’ practice at their training camp site in suburban Rochester, New York. “I said: She set the tone for the season now, right?”‘

The Bills have made the postseason just once since 2000; the Sabres have an eight-year playoff drought.

This was Pegula’s second career tour-level final.

The 62nd-ranked Giorgi was bidding for her third title.

Pegula said that Witt didn’t so much make any “big changes” to her game as he gave her “a couple little things to focus on.”

“Kind of helped me realize to compete for every single point and not really take off any games, take off any points,” she said, “and just keep that same mindset the whole time.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.